Last night (January 8th) on the FOX Network, Procter & Gamble and Walmart premiered their most recent Family Movie Night feature presentation, "Change of Plans", a film about how life's unpredictable re-directions can turn out to be our greatest rewards.
Free-spirited musician Sally Danville (Brooke White) and intelligent former fighter-pilot turned military consultant Jason Danville (Joe Flanigan) are the perfect match - two career-driven individuals who have chosen not to settle down with the domestic responsibilities of raising a family. However, on the day of their five-year anniversary, the married couple receives tragic news on the sudden passing of Sally's best friend Tezzie and her husband, both of whom had served as a Peace Corps activists in Uganda. Sally and Jason are informed that they have been entrusted as legal guardians for the deceased's four diverse, multi-cultural children (three of whom were adopted from third-world nations). Feared to be incapable of care-taking by what they believe to be their lack of maternal and paternal instincts, the couple must quickly learn how to manage their professional priorities and become parents. In a series of episodes, Sally and Dan help the children cope with their grief over losing their mother and father and transition into life in America, while in turn, the children share their culture and customs with their new guardians, teaching them an important lesson on compassion and responsibility.
Though the film follows the conventional family genre format, straight through to the inevitable happy ending, but what sets this film apart is its cast. The interactions between the adults and the children are genuine, and each character carries his or her own unique, likable and relatable personality.
Since her big break on American Idol in 2008, Brooke White has bravely ventured into a multitude of creative career paths. Proving herself to be quite the Jill of all artistic trades, she has tried her hand at singing, song-writing, hosting (as a red carpet interviewer and one half of the Girls With Glasses Show with Eliza Magazine editor-in-chief Summer Bellessa), photography, illustrating, modelling, and now, acting. In her first stint as an actress, White delivers an earnest, charismatic portrayal of a woman coping with the loss of her long-time best friend and the complications of trying to handle her various responsibilities as a wife, an artist and a mother. Her lovable persona translates well into the small screen, and she handles both the emotional and humorous scenes with class and conviction. Joe Flanigan excels as the devoted husband turned great father figure, demonstrating a fine balance between level-headedness and light-heartedness. Jayme Lynn Evans, who plays the strong and stoic Jordan (Tezzie's eldest child and Sally's goddaughter) stands out in her honest portrayal of a girl struggling with the void of her biological parents, her role as the leader among her adopted siblings [athletic and impulsive Javier (Bobby Soto), curious and musical Kaleb (Jakobe Dempsey) and innocent and cheerful Sung Lee (Clarissa Suwoko)] and as a teenager thrust into a whole new culture. Phylicia Rashad rounds out the supporting cast as Dorothy, the social worker who foresees Sally and Dan's potential to be great role models for the children.
This sweet, heartwarming film on love and acceptance delivers an important message on how much more enriching life can become when you see beyond your own interests and invest yourself in the well-being of others. Sometimes, life gives you more than you bargained for, but the surprises have a way of showing us what we're truly capable of achieving.
[The "Change of Plans" DVD and soundtrack (featuring three new songs from Brooke White, including the lead single "Let Us Live As One", written by White and her fellow Idol finalist Michael Johns) will be sold together in a bonus pack exclusively at Walmart this March. Please visit the Family Movie Night for more details.]